Samsung's been selling foldable phones — phones with displays that fold, that is — for about four years now. There's the Galaxy Z Fold lineup, which gives you a near-tablet-sized display that folds into a smaller form factor, and there's the Galaxy Z Flip series, which simply turns a regular smartphone-sized display into something you can fit into the tightest of pockets.
The Galaxy Z Fold series is in its third generation right now while the Galaxy Z Flip series is in its second. Later this year, Samsung will launch new models of both – the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the Galaxy Z Flip 4. Both will naturally bring many improvements over their predecessors, and that's great. But my question is: When will we get the perfect flagship-grade foldable from Samsung?
Both the Galaxy Z Fold and the Galaxy Z Flip smartphones have their own advantages, but they are far from perfect. I'm not talking about the fact that those foldable displays continue to be fragile – that's something Samsung and other manufacturers will probably take a long time to get right.
I'm talking about how neither gets you the kind of “this thing has everything you can imagine from a premium phone” experience that you've come to expect from the company's candybar phones like, say, any one of the devices in the Galaxy S Ultra series. The cameras in particular leave something to be desired.
The $1800 Galaxy Z Fold 3, for example, comes with a 2x zoom camera, one that we saw on the Galaxy Note 8 nearly 5 years back. The Galaxy Z Flip 3, which costs $999, doesn't even have a zoom camera, giving you the option of only a standard camera and one that can take ultra-wide pictures.
Then there's battery life. None of the Galaxy Z Flip phones can last more than half a day with any semblance of standard day-to-day use. The Galaxy Z Fold series phones don't have this issue, but they also can't come close to the kind of battery life you can get on a Galaxy S21 Ultra or Galaxy S22 Ultra. The most current Galaxy Z Fold smartphone, the Z Fold 3, even came with a reduced battery capacity compared to its predecessor, and the effects of that were quite clearly noticeable.
And according to all the information that's available about the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Galaxy Z Flip 4 right now, it doesn't look like either will be getting any drastic upgrades. The Z Fold 4 will have a 3x zoom camera, while the Galaxy Z Flip 4 is likely to continue having just two cameras. Samsung does seem to be addressing battery capacity with the Galaxy Z Flip 4, thankfully, but it still won't be good enough compared to regular non-folding smartphones.
It's understandable that there's limited space inside a foldable smartphone — a zoom camera setup similar to the Galaxy S22 Ultra (or even the Galaxy S20 Ultra) on the Z Fold 4 will likely require a hefty increase in device thickness, for instance. But therein lies the problem: If you want a foldable phone from Samsung, you aren't going to get the complete package, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.
For me, that just means I'm not going to waste my money buying a Samsung foldable in the foreseeable future, and I'm assuming many folks agree with me. Many will disagree and buy these foldables, and more power to them. I, on the other hand, will continue to wait for a Samsung foldable that doesn't ask for such compromise, though I have my fingers crossed I won't have to wait too long.